By Darren Gutteridge
The Revival vs. Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa: Wow, I did not see that coming. I was worried that this was the wrong time for this match, on the presumption that the Revival would be winning and thus squashing their opponents momentum. Instead, this short but sweet match resulted in a shocking win for Gargano and Ciampa. It’s still an odd choice just before Takeover, and the post match beatdown wasn’t enough to protect the Revival. It does however make next week’s match more interesting – could they make an on-the-night switch by including Gargano and Ciampa?
Samoa Joe and Finn Bálor sit down interview: Yet more proof that these type of interviews need to be used more often. Every time they have been used on NXT, they have done wonders for the people involved. Joe made some fantastic “heel logic” points, and Bálor had perhaps his best mic performance to date. I’m glad Takeover will be “The End” for this feud, but after this I am excited for the final showdown.
Opening segment: A minor Hit for four people (Dash, Dawson, Ciampa, Gargano) not known for their talking abilities putting forward solid promo work. The thing I liked most was that the core of the story, and the issue between the two teams, revolved around wins and losses. It’s as good a foundation for a serious tag team division as any.
Tye Dillinger vs. Buddy Murphy: This felt “lower tier” and unimportant to boot, so consider this truly a borderline pick. However, anything resembling creative giving Dillinger some momentum is worth at least a minor Hit. His inverse ratio of wins to crowd reactions is perhaps the biggest in NXT, and he deserves something for getting himself over.
Asuka and Nia Jax contract signing: Contract signings are rarely good, but when they consist of two performers who are lacking in the talking department, they universally suck. I think Jax interrupting an Asuka match with a beatdown would have been more effective, but I will say her powerbomb to end the episode was impressive. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough..
Austin Aries vs. Elias Samson: I found it very hard to get invested in this match, despite the fact I liked the symmetry of giving Aries a pretty strong win over Samson a few weeks after Nakamura did the same. Aries just doesn’t feel all that special right now, which is a shame. However, that cape is a mega Hit, as are all capes past, present, and future.
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